Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How I got another assignment

Just picked up some more work today... almost lost a logo project, but a win-win for my new client and me just happened.

He called me to do a new logo... I gave him a quote and I got the feeling that he was interested, but the cost was an issue. But I couldn't do better on my price.

Now I love to do logos, I've done them for Tropicana, Johnson and Johnson, Xerox, Ocean Spray as well as hundreds of small companies that no one has ever heard of. I have a real knack for them and they are fun for me to do... but they take a lot of time. When you look at how much time it takes and how much I earn on a logo (except for the "big boy" companies) I make less on logos then anything else I do.

But back to getting the project. When I went to his web site later on, I saw the logo that he wanted me to redesign and I said to myself.... "Hey, he has a pretty good logo, it's just not taken to the next level of design and professionalism." It was like one of my first stages when I'm developing a concept for a logo... it's got something going for it, but it's not right just yet. It needs more style, more finesse... it needs to go to the next level of creative design.

So I e-mailed him right back and said that I could save him money on his logo if we took his current logo and just upgraded it. "The benefit of this is that not only will you save money, but your current customers who are familiar with your logo will recognize it as your company, PLUS it would look a lot more elegant and professional."

I got the assignment.

Bottom line:
To be a successful freelancer you have to remember that your job is to help people. Play fair, quote reasonable prices and it will come back to you in assignments and trust. When your clients win, you win. Everyone is happy.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Generating Work.... making more money.

Let's face it, to be a successful freelancer, you have to make money. That's one of the things that makes a freelancer successful.

I like to think of being "successful" as a life style... sometimes (if I'm lucky) working 7 days a week. But always being around and available when my kids are/were home. Being able to take a day off or a vacation without asking the "boss".

But lets face it you have to generate income.

One of the best ways to generate income is a win-win for your client and you.

I make it a point to try to see what my clients are doing. Do they have a web site? Go to it. Do they have newsletters... check them out.

Sometimes the media that I see is terrific and that's great. But sometimes (not always) I see something that is a disaster. You know what I'm taking about, "It's not an important piece, my nephew did it in Word".

When I point out how it can be improved: the message, the design, sometimes my clients agree with me and I get a "found" assignment.

Bottom line:

It doesn't hurt to talk about it... but don't recommend something just for the sake of getting another assignment. You have to know that you will be helping them... and when you do, it pays off on two ends...

1- you are helping your client make a sale.
2- you just made a sale.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Customer changes to your design

As a successful freelancer, handling changes to your designs (and handling your clients) is of the most importance.

Sure your design is "your baby". You love your design, it's beautiful, it's perfect, you wouldn't change a thing for a million dollars... well, ok, who wouldn't make a change for a million dollars?

I don't send out a design to my client unless I did love it... and now they want to changed it!

Now most of the time, my clients love my designs and we just change some text but sometimes I'm asked to make specific changes to my design. Something like "make this bigger, that smaller, change the color...."

I'm happy to make changes because I want my client happy... but this is how I do it:

1- Before I make the changes I explain WHY I've done what I've done.

Sometimes I explain... "IF everything is important in the design, then nothing is important. That's why I made the focal point of the ad that item. Now consumers are attracted to look, then their eye automatically travels to the area to the right..... "

Since I'm a professional designer with a lot of experience, many times my clients will go along with my thinking and NOT make the change.

2- Before I make the changes, I try to understand what they are trying to ACCOMPLISH with the change. Remember, they are not the designer, you are... so what they are suggesting many not be what they want!

This happened last week. I did a major logo for a division of New York State. I presented 4 logos (promised 3). They loved #2 that featured a gold center that picked up the gold in the Great Seal of NYS.

They wanted to see logo #2 with 2 different color combinations. One with a dark blue center and another with a bright yellow center.

I understood why they wanted the dark blue center... the Great Seal of NYS has a dark blue center so they felt it would perhaps coordinate better with the dark blue.

After discussing why they wanted to see a yellow center (when we had a nice gold already) I was told that they wanted to see the logo "brighter".

AH HA!!! That was the key. Now if I gave them the yellow as they asked, it would have clashed with the Great Seal of NYS and they would not have been happy. SO instead of giving them the yellow, I gave them a clean bright WHITE. When presenting the logo, I explained my reasoning.

That was the logo that was approved.

Bottom line... Listen to your client. Try to understand what they are trying to accomplish. If you feel that what they are asking is wrong, communicate your design choices. If your clients do want the changes, that's fine, you can make make their suggestions work.

Remember: find out what they want to accomplish because what they are asking you to do may not be the solution. The difference between a designer and a successful freelance designer is being able to communicate and deliver.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Some interesting facts

Every now and then I come across some interesting facts about our field.. I love when I can throw them into the conversation. I was once talking to a client by the name of Ms Tittle.

I asked her... "do you know what the dot of an "i" is called?" "Nope" she replied. "It's called a Tittle!"

I've always wondered if her family name came from a family of typographers... like the name Smith was probably the name of the local blacksmith.

Since we are on the subject of type, have you ever wondered where the terms "upper and lower case letters" comes from? Well, when type was set by hand, the capital letters were kept in the upper case and the other letters were kept in the lower case!

I like to bring that up in casual conversations too.

Now what does this have to do with being a successful freelancer you might ask... well, I'll tell you. It has to do with coming across as a knowledgeable, friendly person to work with.

Bottom line, as a professional freelancer, you want to keep things on a professional level, but it's always nice to show your personality. Have fun. People like to work with people that give them results. But if it's between you and that other fellow who is a bit of a sour puss... who do you think they are going to call?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

People need PROFESSIONAL graphic designers NOW more than ever!

A while ago it looked like things were slowing down. But it looks like some smart people are taking advantage of the current economic situation and are getting aggressive in their marketing and that's where the successful freelancer can shine.

People aren't just interested in "pretty pictures". They want to sell their product or service.

Money being spent is tight. The way for business to grow is to grab market share from their competitors... and I tell my prospective clients... "I can help you".

They don't want an order taker... they want someone to help put together the most effective ad, web site or logo possible to increase their business.

You have to look at what their competitors are doing, listen to your client, asks questions and put yourself in the consumer's shoes... what would convince YOU to buy that product or service? Better service, buy one get one free? You have to look at all the angles.... then do some kick butt designs.

Bottom line: To be a successful freelancer you have to offer more than just pretty pictures... pretty pictures don't sell. Smart thinking does.